The Carriage House Grief Support Center

Read about one extraordinary young lady who was helped at the Carriage House.

WHAT CAN YOU DO to help a child or teenager who has experienced the death of someone very close: a parent or other primary caregiver, a sister, or a brother?

You can help that youngster find a safe place in which to grieve in the company of other kids who know what it’s like, because they’re grieving, too.

Children’s Friend has created that safe place. It’s called The Carriage House. The Carriage House is a grief support center for kids from 3 to 18 years old and their families. It is the only program of its kind in central Massachusetts.
At The Carriage House, we believe:

  • That grief is a natural, universal experience
  • That when kids are grieving, the adults who love them often don’t know how to help
  • That kids grieve in different ways, but that each child’s unique grief process should be respected and
  • That peer support is the best way to help a grieving child or teen process the emotions that follow the death of someone close.

Read about the first hand experiences through the eyes of our grief center participants.

How are participants assigned to groups?

Children and teens enter age-appropriate groups after all their registration forms have been completed, as spaces become available.

When do groups meet?

The peer support groups at the Carriage House meet every other week from September to June. Sessions run for an hour and a half, except for groups of very young children, which generally last an hour and a quarter. Staff and volunteer facilitators, all of whom have been through intensive training in grief support for young people, lead the groups. While the children and teens are in their peer groups in The Carriage House, the grownups in their lives are offered adult grief support in our administration building across the street.

Is there any charge?

There is no charge for any family’s participation in The Carriage House, but everyone is invited to make a tax deductible contribution to Children’s Friend to support the work of this unique central Massachusetts program.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer facilitator training is usually provided twice a year. For information about training, please call Emily Mullen, the Carriage House Manager at (508)753-5425.

Helping kids who have experienced the death of someone close to them is a wonderful and satisfying way to make a difference. Our volunteer peer group facilitators make a big commitment: 20 hours of training, three and a half hours of their time every other week during the school year for at least a year, plus the gifts of their life experiences, their minds, and their hearts.

Volunteer Testimonial

“Volunteering with Children’s Friend has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I started as a trained Carriage House volunteer, spending time playing with children who had lost a parent or primary caregiver. I immediately bonded with my fellow volunteers, and at once I felt that I was a valued member of Children’s Friend. My bi-weekly meetings with the group left me with much to think about and to be thankful for in my own life, but it was never depressing. What impresses me most about Children’s Friend is that everyone is a true part of the team. Everyone shares a common goal – to improve the life of a child. I truly believe that, thanks to Children’s Friend, there have been many lives improved in Central Massachusetts. I am honored to be a part of the team.”

-Jen MacDonald, MD

Information and Registration

If you would like to find out more or register a child for The Carriage House, please call Children’s Friend at 508-753-5425, and ask to speak with someone about grief support. The first step in joining The Carriage House is a telephone intake, during which basic information about the family is collected. Each family is then scheduled for an orientation session at The Carriage House, so everyone can learn what it would be like to participate. If a family is interested in joining, additional paperwork has to be completed. Families are then assigned to groups as space becomes available.

Web resources for Children’s Grief and Loss

Web links and resources for Children’s Grief and Loss The following are a list of links to other Web sites that provide information and resources about grief and loss. These links open in a new window. They are provided merely as a public service. Children’s Friend has no relationship to or control over content produced on outside sites.

Resources for or about Children – Quicklinks Heartplay and Wayside Hospice – Cranberry Hospice – The Circle – The Children’s Room – Home Health Care: Hospice of the South Shore COA

Grief and Children – Includes several articles that discuss how children at different developmental stages express grief and how you can help them at each stage.

The Grief of Children – Article discussing common ways that children’s grief is expressed and things you should and shouldn’t do to help.

Hospice Net – Children’s Resources – Several articles and links geared to helping children and teens cope with death and loss.

Talking to Children About Death – In-depth article that discusses talking to children about death from the National Institute of Health. Note: You need to have the Adobe Acrobat reader to view this article.

Understanding Children’s Grief - Resources from the Hospice of the North Shore, Danvers, MA.

Links to Other Children’s Grief Support Centers

These are links to support centers in other geographic regions. Many centers have extensive online resources available, too.

Bereaved Families Online Support Center – Toronto, Ontario

Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families – Portland Oregon

Fernside – Cincinnati, Ohio

Judi’s House – Denver, Colorado

New Song Center – Scottsdale, AZ

General Resources

Death and Dying – A variety of articles and links on death, dying and the grieving process.

End of Life Care – Excellent resource from Medem’s Medical Library, covering such topics as hospice, pain, psychological issues, quality of life, coping and other issues. Medem is a resource supported by a consortium of the nation’s leading medical societies.

Grief and Loss – A collection of articles from AARP that discuss common physical and emotional reactions to loss.

Hospice Net – Information about hospice services for patients and families facing life-threatening illness. The site includes resources for children.

On Our Own Terms Site is a companion to Bill Moyer’s acclaimed PBS series on death and dying. An excellent site with readings, community message boards and resources.

MEDLINEplus: Death & Dying – Links to a variety of resources and materials in both English and Spanish.